Friday, May 12, 2023

Politicians Seeing "Which Way The Wind Blows" On Homeless Eliminationism

vice  |  New York City’s mayor and the state’s governor, who have tied their reputation to increasing the vaguely-defined feeling of safety that people get on the subway, were alternately vague or quick to deflect blame. When asked about the killing on Wednesday, Governor Hochul initially said, "People who are homeless in our subways, many of them in the throes of mental health episodes, and that's what I believe were some of the factors involved here. There's consequences for behavior." It was not clear who was deserving of consequences, in Hochul’s view, but many interpreted it to be Neely. 

On Thursday, Governor Hochul tried to strike a different tone, saying, ​​"I do want to acknowledge how horrific it was to view a video of Jordan Neely being killed for being a passenger on our subway trains. And so our hearts go out to his family. I’m really pleased that the district attorney is looking into this matter. As I said, there had to be consequences.” After apparently viewing the video, she said, “the video of three individuals holding him down until the last breath was snuffed out of him, I would say it was a very extreme response.”

Mayor Eric Adams is more hesitant to denounce Neely’s killing.“There’s a lot we don’t know about what happened here, so I’m going to refrain from commenting further,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement to Gothamist. “However,” he added in his statement, “we do know that there were serious mental health issues in play here, which is why our administration has made record investments in providing care to those who need it and getting people off the streets and the subways.” In a CNN interview, Adams called comptroller Brad Lander and others “irresponsible” for labeling the man who killed Neely a vigilante and calling his killing a lynching. 

When asked during the same interview whether it was right to intervene, Adams, a former transit cop, told interviewer Abby Phillip of CNN: “We have so many cases where passengers assist other riders. And we don't know exactly what happened here,” he said.

Adams has been intentionally provocative on the issue of houselessness: he made a rhetorical show of increasing sweeps of encampments, though they have more or less proceeded at the same pace as under his predecessor, who made 9,600 sweeps during his tenure. In November, he instructed police and medical workers that they can involuntarily detain people who appear mentally ill and homeless, though so far it hasn’t led to more people being taken to the hospital.

The statement released by Daniel Penny’s lawyers seemed to mostly reflect Adams’ perspective, pointing to the mental health crisis as the real culprit. They also presented Penny’s actions as a group attempt to maintain order and safety: “Daniel, with the help of others, acted to protect themselves, until help arrived,” they wrote.

The idea that visible homelessness means public order is breaking down, with an attendant rise in violent crime, is a powerful narrative being pushed by right-wingers and the wealthy, but Democratic mayors and civic leaders also participate in this rhetoric. Predictably, vigilantism has become normalized across the country. 

There have been a few high-profile cases just in the last few weeks where these violent fantasies are on full display. In San Francisco, a businessman named Don Carmigniani claimed to have been assaulted by an unhoused person wielding a metal pipe on April 5, and a 24-year old man named Garrett Doty was arrested for it.  

During the criminal case against Carmigniani’s assailant, video was released showing Carmigniani moments earlier approaching Doty while he was lying on the sidewalk and appearing to spray him with bear spray before Doty, startled, gets up and is confronted by Carmigniani, who a third party witness said was threatening the unhoused man. Based on police reports, defense attorneys alleged that Carmiginiani was regularly spraying houseless people with bear spray. Prosecutors later told the 52-year-old Carmigniani that they were dropping charges against Doty.

When tech executive Bob Lee was murdered in April, tech executives including Elon Musk blamed the killing on out of control violent crime. (According to Mission Local, violent crime in San Francisco is still near historic lows.). When police arrested a suspect, it turned out to be another tech executive, Nima Momeni, who had allegedly stabbed Lee. 

The rush of some in the tech sector to cast blame made sense, as the industry is complicit in this crisis: aside from causing rents to spike and exacerbating the homelessness crisis in the Bay Area, the Citizen app enables vigilantism,  and NextDoor is a cesspool of NIMBYism and anti-homeless rhetoric, 

Public camping bans have sprung up independently all over the country, and a single conservative think tank headed by a co-founder of surveillance tech company Palantir  has successfully made it a felony to sleep outdoors  in multiple states.



Chuck - Don't Let Turtle McConnell And His Pwned Bitch Boys Destroy Your Last Gasp At Manhood!!!

Today, I sent my colleagues my plan for the final work period of the first session of the 118th Congress—including negotiations on long-term...